At LSU, most first-year students are required to live on campus. While living away from home and starting a new school can be a shock to the system, LSU’s Residential Life team aims to make dorm or apartment life a breeze.
The campus has about 3 million square feet of student housing to choose from. Throughout the year, the Residential Life staff works to ensure students are getting the most out of their on-campus experience.
“All of us work to make sure that the (average) 153 hours that students spend outside of the classroom each week sets them up to succeed when they’re inside the classroom,” Residential Life Communications & Development Associate Director Catherine David explains.
Residential Life also employs student workers to help provide incoming Tigers with the perspective of a current student. Communications Intern Ainsley Coleman will be a junior this fall. Through orientations and tours, she now gives students tips and tricks from her own personal experience.
For new students starting in the fall, the housing journey really begins with Move-in Day in August. Though some past move-in days have been crowded and clustered, David says Residential Life initiated a new, more efficient model in 2020.
“It used to kind of be like the wild wild west,” David jokes. “COVID helped us reevaluate.” Now, students and their families go to one main lot on River Road behind the softball stadium on Move-in Day. There, they will be checked in by members of Residential Life and asked to wait inside their cars in neat lines for further instructions. Cars are then released to their buildings when there are open spaces for them to unload.
Have a hassle-free Move-in Day
David and Coleman share tips and advice
Less is more
Packing less than you think you need will pay off in the long run. The duo urges students and their families to edit their lists down to the essentials.
“Get all your things together that you’re going to pack, and then leave like 30% of it,” David says. “That’s the biggest mistake I think I see—too much stuff.”
As an LSU student, Coleman tells her tour groups to pack their favorite items instead of their whole room at home. She says students can always make a trip back home for more items or get their families to ship items to them if needed.
Pack smarter, not harder
To ensure shorter and more efficient trips to the car, stow as many items as possible in rolling suitcases or large, zippered bags with handles. David and Coleman agree that IKEA’s large, blue shopping bags are ideal. (They’re even waterproof.) Residential Life also offers wheeled carts during the day to keep the move-in process rolling.
Enjoy the day
Move-in Day at LSU is a big deal, and though Residential Life tries to ensure it runs smoothly, David and Coleman know emotions can run high. Whether it’s frustration related to unloading belongings or sadness over leaving home, the duo encourages students and their families to make the most out of the big day. “When we’re talking to parents and students, we always tell them to just take a deep breath and relax,” David says. “And, just try to enjoy the day.”
Coleman helps run Residential Life’s Pinterest page and has recently been adding plenty of storage ideas. For most, living on campus means having a smaller living area than at home, so it’s good to know how to find clever ways to make it all fit.
Living it up
Once you jump the hurdle that is Move-In Day, it’s time to unpack and decorate. David encourages students to make their spaces their own but warns that bringing too much decor can be overwhelming, especially during move-out. Though you can see pictures online of dramatic dorm redesigns, David and Coleman agree that LSU students seem to be returning to simplicity. Photos, faux greenery, posters or tapestries, and funky lighting like neon signs and LED strip lights make for an easy, on-trend accent wall.
Though some items are prohibited from the on-campus dorms and apartments, air fryers, coffee makers with automatic shut-off, microwaves, slow cookers with automatic shut-off, rice cookers and mini fridges are all welcomed. Coleman says her air fryer was one of her dorm must-haves. Beta fish are also popular. Students are allowed to own fishy friends in a 20-gallon tank or less.
When living with roommates, it can be easy to mix up certain items. During her freshman year, Coleman says she and her roommates decided on a different color for their towels and toiletries to keep them separate. Monograms are a good option for students who want to match their decor with their roommates’. David and Coleman also say it’s common for students to bring a few personal items—for example, they say every Texas Tiger will have their state flag proudly displayed to showcase a piece of home.
When living at LSU, most students will have roommates. Though some choose to room with friends, others may be grouped with random roommates that have similar interests. No matter if you know your roommate or not, David and Coleman recommend discussing topics like wake-up times, guests and sharing the space. Both acknowledge that these conversations may seem unnecessary or awkward but promise that having them early can help avoid conflict in the future.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Tiger Pride issue of 225 magazine.